Oladeinde Lekan — News 24 Nigeria A Nigerian official has stated that the Lagos State Building Control Agency sealed off the guesthouse building at the Synagogue Church of All Nations (Scoan) in Lagos days before it collapsed, but the church ignored its concerns and continued with construction work.
The guesthouse building collapsed on Friday 12 September 2014, killing at least 115 people, including 84 South Africans.
Ihechukwu Njoku, a member of the church’s media team, told News24 Nigeria that the guesthouse building was initially two floors but the church had submitted papers to add extra floors to government agencies for approval. He added he was not sure whether approval had been granted before construction work commenced, and declined to comment further.
However, government officials who spoke to News24 Nigeria said they did not give Scoan approval to add additional storeys to the original plan.
Abimbola Animashaun-Odunayo, general manager at the Lagos State Building Control Agency, said the collapsed building only had approval to be a three-storey structure.
She noted that her agency had sealed off the building a few days before the incident but the church ignored the concerns expressed by the agency and continued working on the building.
She was, however, evasive on what action the government would take should the church be found responsible. She said she would not want to pre-empt the outcome of the investigation and structural integrity test being carried out on the building site.
There is a law which allows the state to take control of any collapsed building, but Animashaun-Odunayo said the outcome of the various tests will determine the action to be taken by government.
Temitope Balogun Joshua, the popular Nigerian televangelist and general overseer of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, has been described as the most controversial pastor in Nigeria, and has been implicated in controversies in the past, according to reports.
Attempts by News24 Nigeria to speak to church members and officials as well as neighbours proved largely unsuccessful.